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Local News

April 24, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Teens live in their own online world

The Internet and social networking websites have made it a lot easier for teens to cloister themselves, former Cooperstown High School Principal Gary Kuch said recently.

While speaking to Kuch about the underground world of teenagers, he said school administrators and teachers have always grappled with deciphering the slang teenagers use and their youth culture.

But teenagers with their own computers can now shut the doors of their rooms at night and continue to participate in their “underground” world, he said.

This comes with a risk, Kuch said.

“It seems there is less of a responsibility about what is said on the Internet than face-to-face,” said Kuch, who is now the superintendent of Worcester Central School.

The Internet also affords anonymity that can sometimes be abused, he said.

My conversation with Kuch led me to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The study suggests text messaging on mobile phones has become the No.1 communication tool of teens _ surpassing social networking websites, instant messaging, phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

A third of children between the ages of 12 and 17 send more than 100 text messages a day and half send more than 50, according to the study.

And there has been a big change just in the last two years, with 54 percent of teens texting at least once a day in September 2009, compared to 38 percent in 2008, the study found.

There is another interesting finding in the study _ 87 percent of teens who text sleep with their phones or next to them.

About a quarter of the teens surveyed reported they had been bullied or harassed through text messaging or cell phone calls.

Although Jill Mattice was a runner, she wasn’t always able to race in The Pit Run, her friend Kyle Breier said recently.

Breier, who is helping to organize the Trooper Jill E. Mattice Memorial HOPE Run on May 16, said Mattice worked on the state police detail on The Pit Run route in recent years.

Mattice died Jan. 20 when her patrol car collided with a tractor trailer on state Route 23 in Morris as she drove back to Oneonta from Unadilla Valley Central School.

Mattice enjoyed her job as school resource officer, Breier said.

“She absolutely loved working with the kids,” Breier said.

Lorey Biesheuvel, who is also helping to organize the run, said one of their eventual goals is to hold events in Mattice’s memory that are geared toward children.

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